February 15, 2012

Guilt And The Nap Trap

Today I was given a very precious gift.


Pinkela is away on camp, and my (beautiful, kind, generous) mother agreed to pick up Little Man and Boo for me so that I could have the whole afternoon to myself. An empty house.


Things have been pretty crazy recently. I've edited my first book for the UK release, edited my second book for it's Aussie release, written three regular columns, and taken on a new writing project, as well as several other bits and pieces that have flown in at different times.

Oh, and I've looked after my three children, their father, the house we live in, the finances, the bills, the laundry, the shopping, our social lives, and pretty much everything else.

I. Am. Exhausted.

I need a break, desperately. And whilst a real break isn't coming for a while, I realised that today was the first day without a deadline looming, and that I could afford to take a few hours off.

I'd been up at 5.45am to get Pinkela to camp and the others to school, then had a meeting with my publishers. I got home at 11.30am and realised: This is it. This is my chance to relax. Do it.

But I pretty much had forgotten how.

I wandered around the house for a while, occasionally tidying, or wiping a surface with a cloth. And then I sat down on the couch and thought, What now?

I didn't know. It felt.... odd. Discordant. Where was my computer?

I watched an episode of Modern Family and then one of Sex And The City (the Modern Family I hadn't seen, the SATC I'd seen around 17 times), both in slight agitation. I was enjoying the shows, but something was wrong.

I didn't feel relaxed enough.

I decided to try to nap. I went upstairs and lay on the bed.

I couldn't sleep.


What was happening to me? I fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow! I fall asleep BEFORE my head hits the pillow! I fall asleep at my desk with Boo yelling in my ear and my laptop grinding a dent in my forehead.


The answer, people, was guilt. Guilt was what was happening to me. Guilt for taking an afternoon off. Guilt for doing nothing. Guilt for stopping.

Guilt is bad. Guilt is a useless, stupid emotion. I shouldn't feel guilty for taking time off. I shouldn't feel guilty for stopping. I deserve some relaxation and I deserve to stop and enjoy my life. And I deserve a nap, god damnit, even if my tick-tick-ticking brain won't pause for a moment and let me.

So from now on, I'm having a rostered afternoon off every fortnight. It's going in my diary. I'm going to watch TV and lay in bed and roast marshmallows and eat bonbons (okay, so I may have lied about the marshmallow part).

Life is short and guilt is stupid and Sex And The City is on endless rerun on pay TV. And I am going to learn to enjoy it.


  1. Sounds like a great plan. The best part is, like anything, the more you practice relaxation the easier it gets.

  2. I read that. I agree with you on the 'finding the time' and making yourself use it, dammit! But mine doesn't have guilt etched into it.
    I cannot relax or even read the paper anymore without being fidgety and thinking, should I be writing, on twitter, who's sent me an email. Do I write another paper as a consultant.
    This is me, retired?!??
    Yes. It is. It is called being 'productive' and I like loads of it, because i like the highs and the connections...but I know deep down, I cannot keep going, as I too have forgotten how to do the things I love.
    Read a book? I'm too ADHD (silly of me to quote something that's serious, but you know what I mean)
    I am currently on the Sunshine coast for a few days R&R. Me, solo, should love it. 
    Brought the laptop, the camera, the iPad, the iPhone, and will meet up with blogging friends. I really love to meet up with people.
    This afternoon, I gave myself a bit of talking to, and then went to the beach. No i anythings, just wearing swimmers, thongs, and with a beach towel. And I surfed. AWESOME.

    Good for you Kerri, on admitting you NEED the break, and love your mum. Aren't mums the best...
    Love Denyse XX

  3. This happens to me EVERY time I get a moment to myself. The answer for me became - get a hobby. Now when I have time off I get crafty so that at least I can say that I did something useful with the time. What is the world coming to?! Mother guilt be gone!

  4. I hear you. I gave up full time work 18 months ago and still struggle with the concept of doing nothing. After years of running (on empty I might add) I couldn't stop. A nap is a psychological victory for me even if it is 10 minutes. I have discovered th secret. I lie on the couch after lunch to 'watch tv. Then I fall asleep. If I go to bed and plan on a nap it never happens. It's the guilt I tell you. But remember - if you worked in an office you'd be entitled to an hours lunch break. What you donwithnis is your business so nap away (while watching tv)'

  5. Exactly. You deserve a rest. You really do.  I just signed up for pay tv today- we are no longer Amish. Now I can watch Sex in the City ... guilt free :)  xx

  6. its SO true!!! I end up not having any time off then like the last few days in bed asleep between 830pm and 9pm to recover.  Guilt SUCKS!

  7. Do iiiit. And if you take a Bic to bed, you can totally roast your marshmallows.


  8. Guilt - serves no purpose, yet has infinite power.
    We should ban it.

    Why not the marshmallows??

  9. Aw gee. How hard on ourselves are we? You forgot to mention talking to *us* too, which you do regularly and with generosity.

    I also struggle with these things albeit without also a clever career or income to show for it :/ The pace at home becomes like a treadmill we can't seem to get ourselves off of. The last time I had 3 days off I wisely used the entire first one to have a migraine. Because I could. xxx

  10. Ah! This was so apt for me to day Kerrie! Thank you :) 

  11. LOVE this. Now if only I could apply it to my own life. If I ever have a spare 5 minutes I, uh, dust. (*makes mental note to dust off Mr Buzzy instead*)

  12. Kerri, we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people {except me of course}, so you need to be able to look at that speck of dust { Ok, that 3 inch thick sheen of dust on the coffee table }, and think "Bugger it, I'll do it tomorrow, today is ME day ". You have to do that. I do, which is why I'm so sane, and calm....... *snort*.... :-D

  13. I am terrible on the guilt at not doing things constantly thing.  Fingers crossed I'm going to have a couple of months off later this year - but I already have a list as long as my arm of stuff to do.  I must learn this art of doing nothing.

    I do wonder why it seems to come so easily to our menfolk though!

  14. Kerri I can totally relate to the guilt feeling.  I have a really hard time winding down.  It's like my brain has a little argument....'You should be doing something now!' vs 'You deserve a rest; it's ok to do nothing'.  I actually can't remember the last time I had a nap.  Mind you I do get extremely tired...but i can't switch my brain off lol!  I think I might take your advice and schedule in some much needed TV time.  I've gotten into 'The Good Wife' and it's all recorded...just get me some ice cream and I'm set!

  15. WTH happened to the comment I left here yesterday? I did say that we mothers are very good at being hard on ourselves.
    The pace we get used to at home is like a treadmill we can't seem to wind down from. Last year was really difficult and at the start of this year my mum came to stay with the kids so we could get 3 days away to be together and regroup. I very wisely spent the whole first one having a migraine. Because goddammit, I could.

  16. Good for you Kerri! I was feeling tired reading what you have been up to, indeed you have been busy!
    I totally agree that its necessary to have that time to do those things, i sometimes do it aswell, at first i felt guilty and it felt wierd, now I THRIVE when I have some ME time. Toddler free time : )

  17. WTH happened to the comment I left here yesterday? I did say that we mothers are very good at being hard on ourselves.

    The pace we get used to at home is like a treadmill we can't seem to wind down from. Last year was really difficult and at the start of this year my mum came to stay with the kids so we could get 3 days away to be together and regroup. I very wisely spent the whole first day/night having a migraine. Because goddammit, I could.

  18. I totally understand you whenever I feel super tired, I want to relax but then i start thinking about all the things I have to do and I could not be relaxed for a single minute!

    Moving Homes

  19. Need help relaxing or getting to sleep? Try Chillax. It's a juice made from Montmorency tart cherries, which contain natural melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occuring hormone in our bodies that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle - allowing for a good night's sleep. Chillax also contains Lactium - a milk derivative proven to have calming properties.  

  20. I have perfected the art of doing nothing over many years. I am the Queen of Inertia. Fear not child, it will come.


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